ASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying of Milwaukee as bishop of Gary, Indiana, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Dale J. Melczek, who has headed the diocese since 1996.
The changes were announced Nov. 24 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Hying, 51, has been an auxiliary bishop in Milwaukee since 2011 and is former rector of the archdiocese’s St. Francis De Sales Seminary. Bishop Melczek is 76 years old. Canon law requires a bishop to turn in his resignation at age 75.
Gary’s new bishop will be installed during a Jan. 6 Mass at Holy Angels Cathedral.
“We will truly miss Bishop Hying’s spiritual and administrative leadership,” said Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. “While we are sad to see him leave, we are grateful for his service and know that he will continue to be a blessing for the people of Gary, just as he has been a blessing for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”
While serving the Milwaukee church, the archbishop said, Bishop Hying has shown an “unceasing commitment to evangelization,” has “worked tirelessly in support of youth and adult Catholic organizations” and has been “a living example and compassionate advocate for the sanctity of life.”
Bishop Hying in a statement said he was “humbled, honored and excited to embrace the call to serve the church in the Diocese of Gary.” He praised Bishop Melczek for doing “a superlative job as shepherd.”
“I leave Milwaukee, my beloved hometown, with some sorrow, knowing that I will miss my family and friends as well as the priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders of our great archdiocese,” he said.
He said he was grateful to Archbishop Listecki and Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba “for their guidance, support and example of service as I still continue to learn the episcopal ropes.”
He added that the Milwaukee Archdiocese “will always be in my heart and prayers. I will be leaning on your prayers to carry me in this new spiritual adventure.”
Pope Benedict XVI appointed then-Father Hying as an auxiliary for Milwaukee May 26, 2011. Archbishop Listecki ordained him a bishop July 20 of that year. He was ordained to the priesthood May 20, 1989, by Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland.
He served in parishes in Milwaukee, East Troy, Wisconsin, and Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and spent three years, from 1994 to 1997, as a team member in La Sagrada Familia Parroquia, Dominican Republic. He is fluent in Spanish.
From 2007 to 2011, he was rector of St. Francis De Sales Seminary; before that he spent two years as the seminary’s dean of formation.
Donald J. Hying was born Aug. 18, 1963, in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis. He is the youngest of six sons. He holds bachelor’s degrees in history, philosophy and theology from Marquette University, a master of divinity degree from St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and is currently completing his thesis for a doctor of ministry degree from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.
Bishop Melczek, a native of Detroit, was ordained to the priesthood for the Detroit Archdiocese by then-Archbishop John Dearden in 1964. St. John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1982; then-Archbishop Edmund Szoka ordained him a bishop in 1983.
In 1987, he was the director of St. John Paul’s visit to Detroit. In 1992 he was appointed apostolic administrator of the Gary Diocese, was named coadjutor bishop there in 1995 and a year later became head of the diocese, immediately succeeding Bishop Norbert F. Gaughan, when he retired.
In 2002, Bishop Melczek began to address the sin of racism in northwestern Indiana as a major priority with his first pastoral, “The Many Faces of Our Church: A Pastoral Letter on Cultural Diversity.”
In parish-based discussions that followed the letter’s release, Catholics came together to examine the contributions of their diverse cultures to the church and to society.
The next year Bishop Melczek wrote a second pastoral on racism, titled “Created in God’s Image: A Pastoral Letter on the Sin of Racism and a Call to Conversion.” It also was discussed in parish-based, small faith-sharing groups, followed by listening sessions in four areas of the diocese and with a rite of atonement at the Holy Angels Cathedral.
Bishop Melczek co-chaired the Race Relations Council of Northwest Indiana from 2002-2007.
On the national level, he is former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ committees on diaconate, nominations and the laity. He has been a member of several other committees, including human values, marriage and the family, budget and finance, religious life and ministry, and international policy.
Bishop Melczek was a member of the Joint Committee of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bishops. He also has been episcopal liaison to the National Association of Catholic Chaplains from 2002-2007.
The bishop also is a former member of the board of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas and relief agency. He made several international trips on behalf of CRS, including to the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Angola and Tanzania.
The Diocese of Gary covers about 1,800 square miles in northwestern Indiana. Catholics number 185,000 out of a total population of about 794,000.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.